Because my music has no lyrics, the motivation behind each song sometimes may not be obvious to the listener. But that doesn’t mean that the songs are devoid of meaning. On the contrary, I write instrumental music because for me it carries a deeper and more personal message than any lyrics that I could write. In this series of blog posts I want to give you a little background information that will help to illuminate each tune and show you how it came about.
“Gone But Not Forgotten”
This song is a tribute to my departed friend Jesse Zimmerman. When I first started working for Robert Honablue THI Studios was still called Royal Blue Studios. Early in my time there Jessie and Valencia Overton walked through the door looking for someone who knew about analog tape. He sure came to the right place. Despite getting on in years Jesse was still enthusiastic about recording his music and hopeful about what the future might bring. He became my first client at the studio.
Fast forward a bit and Jesse must have recognized something in me. He was no longer just a client. He asked me to arrange and produce his music. Jesse and I had bonded over our love of 70’s era Philadelphia soul. It was a no brainer, I jumped at the chance. Over the course of working together we became good friends. Sometimes I felt as if Jesse was my biggest fan. After producing two songs he had written I decided to try my hand at writing a song specifically for him. I knew he loved strings sections and horn sections so those were definitely going to play a central role.
We were still in the middle of the process of trading demo files and working out the melody when Jesse had a sudden heart attack and passed away. I was shocked and saddened. Unfortunately, none of the demos I had were salvageable but I refused to let this song die on the vine, so I tore it down and built it back up. Without vocals it was too slow so I sped it up and then I needed to write a new melody for it. Once the structure was firmly in place I spent quite a lot of time working out full horn and string arrangements. When I play this track for people they usually say “wow, this sounds like the 70’s!” That is the perfect response because that is exactly what Jesse was going for. In the end I know Jesse would love this track.
Gone But Not Forgotten also includes the longest list of collaborators I have ever had. Although I sent tracks to each of them so they could overdub their parts individually, I like to think of them as my band. The following people all contributed greatly to what I consider to be one of my best tracks I have ever written.
John Doing – Drums, Adam Ahuja – Piano, Katy Gunn – Violins, Adam Maalouf – Cello, Dan Puccio with the Sweet & Low Horns – horn section, Mark Morgan – additional Trumpets, Robert Honablue – mastering, Jesse Zimmerman – inspiration.
Image Credit: https://unsplash.com/@nathananderson